Aromatherapy for the Health of It

Aromatherapy Diffuser by Laurie  Buchanan

Aromatherapy Diffuser by Laurie Buchanan

Responding to stress is natural, but staying in a constant state of stress eventually produces negative health effects. Cortisol—also known as the death or stress hormone—is part of our body’s natural response to stress. Yet when it’s released at high levels and/or not allowed to ease up, it decreases immunity, bone density, and the overall quality of life.

Because aromatherapy triggers the relaxation response, it’s an effective self-health method that can diminish, if not eliminate, stress from taking root in the body. This response can balance cortisol levels, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, improve digestion, and normalize blood sugar levels.

Totally portable, essential oils are easy to use. You can inhale a single essential oil, or create a synergy—a blend of oils.

At HolEssence we use diffusers that waft our Signature Scent—a proprietary blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, and rosemary—throughout the yoga studio, office, and treatment room. Inhaling the aroma is immediately calming, yet uplifting. Many people who walk in say, “Ahhhhhh, it smells like heaven in here.”

Most people tolerate essential oils well, but care must be taken that the fragrance isn’t overpowering. Essential oils you may want to consider in your self-health program include:

Chamomile is calming, soothing, and relaxing. It has a sweet, herbal, and fruity aroma.

Ylang Ylang is anti-depressive and relaxing. This evergreen tree has intensely fragrant flowers, followed by green fruits—a little goes a long way.

Eucalyptus is balancing and stimulating. Its aroma is a mix of camphor and the forest.

Geranium is comforting and healing. It has a sweet, floral, and earthy aroma.

Lavender is well known for its calming and therapeutic effects. It’s floral, sweet, woodsy, and herbal smelling.

Rose is warm and deeply floral—a little goes a long way.

Rosemary is refreshing and stimulating. Its fragrance is refreshing, woodsy, and herbal.

Sandalwood is very relaxing. It has a woodsy, sweet, and exotic scent.

Marjoram is used to deal with anxiety and insomnia. Its fragrance is warm and spicy.

Jasmine is soothing and relaxing. It has a warm, floral scent.

Neroli is relaxing—it has sedative properties. Its fragrance is floral and refreshing—a little goes a long way.

Note: as with anything used for medicinal purposes, check to ensure that the essential oils you use don’t have any negative interactions with current health issues and/or medication. The purpose of this post is not to for you to stop your current healthcare regimen. Rather, to bring awareness that Aromatherapy is a wonderful complementary self-health treatment that can help to create a healthier you.

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Heart-Based Elder Care

Self-Portrait - Laurie and Dad

Self-Portrait - Laurie and Dad

That’s a picture of me and my dad. I’m currently visiting him in Encinitas, California (Dec 16 – Jan 1). One of the many purposes of my visit is to research local options for all levels of elder care.

But not just any elder care. I want my dad to be on the receiving end of heart-based elder care if and when he needs it; heart-based elder care with a holistic approach. In other words, people who have his best interest—body, mind, and spirit—at heart.

While here, my goal is to help my dad understand that there are many ways to approach optimal rest-of-life wellness, stress, pain management, and comfort. My desire with the research findings I present, is for him to make informed decisions as he crosses various bridges associated with the ageing process.

My objective during this visit is to maximize his self-confidence and independence, and to help him integrate complementary and traditional approaches in an effort for him to reach and maintain a state of balance.

In addition to working with healthcare and associated insurance benefits, we’re working on financial and legal aspects. Hands-on we’ve been doing lots of breathwork, cranial therapy, and reflexology. I think he’s actually having fun—at least I hope so.

In a recent email discussion about elder care with my friend Barbara K. she said:

“I have witnessed so many people headed for the 20-year chronic disease and disability in retirement sentence. I have listened to that lesson and, like you, practice good eating, exercise regularly, watching that cholesterol level, and working this brain on both sides. The women in my family live into their 90s and I can either do that vertically and independently, or horizontally and dependently. Genetics pretty much determines how long we live. Lifestyle determines how well we live.”

George Burns, the comedien who lived to be 100, is famous for saying: “If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”

Leaving you with that wonderful food for thought, please know that my next post won’t be until I return home on January 2, 2011.

Happy New Year to You and Yours!

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com.

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

V is for Vitamins

Supplements by Laurie Buchanan

Supplements by Laurie Buchanan

No matter how well we eat, there are usually some nutritional gaps in our diet. Multivitamins and minerals are an easy and convenient way to help fill those gaps and insure that our bodies get all of the nutritional support they need every day.

There are 13 vitamins classified as either water soluble (C and B-complex) or fat soluble (A, D, E and K) each having a key role to play in our bodies.

Water Soluble Vitamins: Stored in the body for a brief period of time, water soluble vitamins are then excreted by the kidneys. The one exception is vitamin B12, which is stored in the liver. Water soluble vitamins need to be taken daily.

Fat Soluble Vitamin: Together with fat from the intestine, these vitamins are absorbed into the circulation. Any disease or disorder that affects the absorption of fat, such as celiac disease, can lead to a deficiency of these vitamins. Once absorbed into the circulation these vitamins are carried to the liver where they’re stored.

In addition to vitamins, our bodies need several minerals for the proper makeup of bone and blood, and for maintenance of normal cell function. These are divided into 2 groups:

Major minerals: phosphorous, calcium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, sulfur, and magnesium.

Trace minerals: iron, iodine, cobalt (from vitamin B12), chromium, selenium, copper, fluorine, manganese, zinc, and molybdenum.

Below I’ve provided a brief thumbnail sketch of some of key vitamins and minerals. It doesn’t include healthy oils (i.e., fish, garlic, flaxseed) or herbal supplements (i.e., milk thistle, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, echinacea).

Vitamin A – Vitamin A prevents eye problems, promotes a healthy immune system, is essential for the growth and development of cells, and keeps skin healthy.

Vitamin B-Complex – It’s my perspective that B vitamins should be taken as a complex, a combination of B vitamins that are essential for quality longevity, heart health, and aiding the body during times of stress. Here is a quick look at the individual B’s:

          B-1 (also known as thiamin) helps the body to convert carbohydrates into energy and is necessary for the proper function of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.

          B-2 (also known as riboflavin) is essential for turning carbohydrates into energy and producing red blood cells. It’s also important for vision.

          B-3 (also known as niacin) helps the body convert food into energy. It helps maintain healthy skin and is important for nerve function.

          B-6 is important for normal brain and nerve function. It also helps the body break down proteins and make red blood cells.

          B-9 (also known as folic acid) helps the body make red blood cells, and is needed to make DNA.

          B-12 helps to make red blood cells, and is important for nerve cell function.

Vitamin C is needed to form collagen, a tissue that helps to hold cells together. It’s essential for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels. It helps the body to absorb iron and calcium, aids in wound healing, and contributes to brain function.

Calcium – Essential for teeth and building strong bones. Adequate calcium in a healthy diet may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Vitamin D Promotes the strength of the immune system, supports bone and joint health, and enhances calcium absorption. Vitamin D is unique in that the body is able to produce it when ultraviolet rays, specifically UVB, penetrate the skin. When these ultra violet rays come into contact with a compound in the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol (a cholesterol precursor), this compound is converted to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (vitamin D3), the active form of vitamin D.

Vitamin E – is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. It’s also important for the health of red blood cells, maintenance of a healthy heart, lungs, prostate, and enhances digestive tract function.

Folic Acid – aids in the prevention of birth defects when it is taken prior to conception. Given its potential to protect the health of newborns, healthcare professionals strongly advocate that women begin taken folic acid supplements three months prior to the time they plan to conceive.

Iron – helps red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include weakness and fatigue, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath.

Vitamin K – is necessary for blood clotting.

Magnesium – helps muscles and nerves to function, steadies the heart rhythm, and keeps bones strong. It also helps the body create energy and make proteins.

Phosphorous – helps form healthy bones and teeth. It also helps the body make energy. Every cell in the body needs phosphorus to function normally.

Potassium – helps with muscle and nervous system function. It also helps the body maintain the balance of water in the blood and body tissues.

Zinc – An infection fighting mineral, zinc is important for normal growth, strong immunity, and wound healing.

Not all vitamins and minerals are created equal, be sure to read the label. Naturally, you should work with your healthcare provider to find out which supplements you could benefit from, and how much is right for you taking into consideration your gender, age, weight, activity level, health concerns, and any medications you may be taking.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com.

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

R is for Relaxation

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Relaxation is essential for anyone who’s interested in managing stress. And while relaxation enhances peace of mind, it also decreases the wear and tear on our minds and bodies from the challenges and hassles of every day life.

Whether your stress is spiraling out of control or you’ve already got it tamed—everyone can benefit from using relaxation techniques. Unfortunately, relaxation oftentimes takes a back seat in life’s busy-ness.

Most health professionals—alternative, complementary, traditional, and integrative—encourage their clients to use relaxation techniques.

A relaxation technique is something that refocuses your attention to a calm awareness. It doesn’t matter which relaxation method you choose, what matters is that you engage in the practice regularly so that you can reap the many benefits:

– Slowing your heart rate
– Lowering blood pressure
– Slowing your breathing rate
– Increasing blood flow to major muscles
– Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
– Improving concentration
– Reducing anger and frustration
– Boosting confidence to handle problems

There’s a wide brushstroke of relaxation techniques:

In your mind’s eye you might imagine a peaceful place and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate. Use as many senses as you can. For example, if you imagine yourself at the ocean, think about the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves, and the warmth of the sun.

Another method is to start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.

Other relaxation techniques include, yoga, tai chi, listening to music, exercise, meditation, and self-hypnosis.

The moment you feel stress symptoms sneaking up on you, make a conscious effort to practice a relaxation technique. If you nip it in the bud, it can prevent stress from spiraling out of control.

What was the most recent relaxation technique you used?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved.

L is for Laughter

Yes, I've actually done presentations in these shoes

Yes, I’ve actually done presentations in these shoes

Did you hear the one about?…

The focus on the benefits of laughter began in earnest with Norman Cousins’ memoir, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient. Norman who’d been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a painful spine condition, discovered that a regimen of comedy films like Marx Brothers and episodes of Candid Camera made him feel better. He said that 10 minutes of laughter allowed him 2 hours of pain-free sleep.

Scientists attribute the benefits of laughter primarily to its ability to combat the physical and emotional characteristics of chronic stress, which have been shown to suppress the body’s immunity.

The Health Benefits of Laughter
Laughter reduces stress by increasing the body’s secretion of growth hormone, which, in turn, has a positive effect on immunity. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response.

Laughter decreases the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two of the worst culprits in weakening the immune system. Studies suggest that similar to exercise, laughter releases endorphins that the body uses to fight pain and depression.

Len, Peter and Laurie Laughing

Len, Peter and Laurie Laughing

Research done at the University of Maryland Medical Center shows that “Laughter is similar to exercise in that it decreases blood pressure, increases muscle flexion, improves the overall performance of the heart’s muscular functions, and possibly wards off heart disease.”

Roberta Gold, recreation and humor therapist based in California said, “The physiological processes the body undergoes during laughter are relaxing. Your circulatory system works better, you oxygenate your blood better, and you feel better afterward, physiologically and emotionally. The benefits of comedy aren’t just physical. While laughter improves the body’s physiological processes, a sense of humor is paramount to mental health. Laughter stimulates positive emotions and encourages a more positive outlook.”

Research at the University of North Carolina determined that a positive mental state—such as one brought on by humor—increases open-mindedness, creativity, and the capacity to adapt to change.

Experts also speculate that a sense of humor goes hand-in-hand with higher levels of “emotional intelligence” which determines a person’s ability to handle their feelings and understand the emotional states of others.

Karen and Peter Cracking Up!

Karen and Peter Cracking Up!

Humor has also been linked to improved test scores. In a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, researchers divided students in a graduate biostatistics class into 2 groups. They administered identical exams to each group, except that one set of tests had humorous instructions. Students who received the amusing exam scored significantly higher than those with the ordinary directions.

Laughter decreases blood pressure, normalizes heart rate, and increases appetite. To top it off, it’s a great workout that helps the lungs breathe better and keeps muscles in the diaphragm, abdomen, respiratory tract, face, legs, and back healthy.

According to a study released by the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2000 meeting, laughter and an active sense of humor may also help to prevent heart and artery disease.

The University of Maryland Medical Center studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After viewing, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedies behaved normally, expanding and contracting easily. However, the blood vessels in people who watched the dramas tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.

One study of people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended an intentionally tedious lecture. The next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.

Laurie & Len know how to have a fun time!

Laurie & Len know how to have a fun time!

How does it work?
Scientists speculate that humor stimulates the brain’s reward center in the same ways as SEX and CHOCOLATE. In turn, this reward center secretes 2 hormones into the brain: dopamine and serotonin. Also known as happiness molecules, these are anti-stress chemicals associated with the feeling of happiness. As we grow older, the production of these chemicals in the body decreases, so laughing becomes all the more important with increasing age.

As a Holistic Health Practitioner, I can share this fact with certainty: of the 206 bones in the human body, the most important one is the funny bone. Laughter is indeed the best medicine!

When was the last time you enjoyed side-splitting laughter?

 

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Rose Hip Season

Rose Hips on the Vine

You’ve seen them. Those things that look like cherry tomatoes or large berries flirting with you from between the leaves on your rose bushes. Those are rose hips. They form after the rose bloom has died. They’re typically red or orange, but depending on the type of rose bushes you have, they can also be purplish to black in color.

Providing almost 20-times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, rose hips are an incredible source of vitamin C. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, they also help to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

You can use them fresh off the vine, dried, or preserved. They can be used in apple sauce, soups, stews, syrups, puddings, jelly/jam, bread, and pie. My favorite way is to use them is to make rose hip tea. Regardless of how you use them, you’ll need to prepare them first.

Preparation
Place the hips on a clean surface to dry. When the skin begins to look slightly shriveled it’s time to split the hips in half and remove all the seeds and tiny hairs in the center. After the seeds and hairs are removed, let the hips dry completely. Don’t wait to remove the seeds until the hips are completely dry because it’s harder to de-seed them.

Storage
If they’re not going to be used within the week, store the prepared hips in sealed plastic bags and freeze them. If you’re going to use them in the next few days, simply place them in the refrigerator. Somewhat like dried cranberries, they can be eaten as a healthy snack anytime.

Herbal Tea
Boil the dried and crushed rise hips for about 10 minutes (about 2 tablespoons of berries per pint of water). If the mint in your garden took over like ours did this year, you can add a crushed mint leaf (fresh or dried). Depending on your geographic location, you may even be fortunate enough add a few hibiscus flower petals as well.

If you’re going to add honey, make sure it’s locally grown – this will help to combat allergies.

Cheers!

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com

Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights ReservedNo part of this blog post may be used in part, or in whole, without written permission from Laurie Buchanan.

Have you ever been told you couldn’t, or wouldn’t, but you did?

Where there's a will, there's a way, by Laurie Buchanan

Have you ever been told:
– You couldn’t lose the weight
– You couldn’t run the marathon
– You couldn’t quit smoking
– You wouldn’t amount to anything
– You couldn’t have a baby
– Your head is a receptacle for silly ideas
– You couldn’t get a business loan because you wouldn’t make a go of it
– You couldn’t write a book, and if you did, you couldn’t get it published
– You wouldn’t make a good parent
– You wouldn’t live more than 5-months because you have cancer taking over your body, and you responded (like my friend, Ted) with a beautiful, robust, health-filled life!

What have you been told you couldn’t, or wouldn’t – but you did anyway?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com

Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog post may be used in part, or in whole, without written permission from Laurie Buchanan.